Blackglama used to run magazine ads showing venerable stars--Lauren Bacall, Pearl Bailey--swathed in its minks; the caption always read "What becomes a legend most?" That's the question raised by Dance Chicago's review of classics created here in the past century. Though the program is heavy on stuff from the 1990s, it also includes reconstructed pieces of the 1920s and '30s. So who has become a legend? Is it Ruth St. Denis, who was inspired by "Eastern" art (including a cigarette poster showing the Egyptian goddess Isis) to create such pieces as the 1925 White Jade, danced here with equal parts restraint and passion by Stephanie Clemens of Momenta Performing Arts Company? Is it Doris Humphrey, Chicago's own Martha Graham, whose two female solos--also superbly danced by members of Momenta--feel not only powerful but brand-new? Each is a contender, but the best of the bunch is Melissa Thodos, whose 1998 Chant reflects intelligence coupled with passion and innovation with taste. Thodos skims the cream off a smorgasbord of dance traditions and turns it into her own confection. There are also fine works from Christina Ernst and Sam Watson (Unbreakable, 1987) and Jon Lehrer (Instinct, 2001). In fact, of the 12 pieces on the "Dance R/Evolution" program, 8 are excellent--a batting average anyone could be proud of. See listing for the complete lineups. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500; 773-935-6860 for information and subscriptions. Sunday, November 17, 3 PM; Friday, November 22, 8 PM. $15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marc Hauser.